Extensive testing determines how long it takes for antibiotics to leave an animal’s system (known as withdrawal periods)
Regulators review the studies and proposed withdrawal periods and approve or reject them
By law, animals given an antibiotic cannot be processed until the withdrawal period ends
Meat is tested before it leaves the processing plant to ensure there are no unsafe residues (by USDA and companies involved)
Then the meat is available for the public
Responsible use of antibiotics
The animal health community changed the way antibiotics are used on U.S. farms, in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Changes that took effect Jan. 1, 2017, limit the uses of antibiotics in animal agriculture and require increased oversight by a veterinarian to further ensure responsible use of antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health concern and the animal health community shares that concern.
Antibiotics explained: resistance vs. residue
Antibiotic “resistance” refers to bacteria that evolve to the point they are not easily killed by antibiotics. This is different from antibiotic “residue.” Antibiotic “residue” refers to molecules that remain in meat from animals that have been treated with antibiotics. There are multiple systems in place to ensure meat is safe and does not include antibiotic residues, including mandatory antibiotic withdrawal periods in animals and routine testing of meat by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and food companies.
Antibiotics help keep food safe
Responsible use of animal antibiotics benefits all of us by making food safer and more affordable. Antibiotics make food safer by helping keep animals healthy, and studies show this reduces bacteria entering the food supply.
Antibiotics help keep food affordable
Keeping animals healthy allows farmers to produce food more effectively, which has the added benefit of making food more affordable while using fewer natural resources. It’s important to better understand the impacts of all uses of antibiotics on resistance so effective strategies can be developed to protect public health, food safety and animal well-being.